It's no real secret that Hollywood has long been prone to promoting seemingly arbitrary — yet often financially very important — differences of opinion. From sound vs. silence to Liberalism vs. McCarthyism, from VHS vs. Betamax to Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD, and from Marvel vs. DC through to superhero movies vs. everything else, industry discord has been happening for generations, and it's not going away anytime soon.
The latest apparent divide to emerge from deepest, darkest California? The battle between two ratings: PG-13 and R. After all, conventional wisdom seems to say, any movie rated PG-13 will surely fail to be adult — and thus credible — while any movie rated R will surely alienate the core demographic of young people who can't always get into an R-rated movie. The barnstorming success of Fox's Deadpool has to some extent brushed away those assumptions, but the underlying division lying beneath them remains: You either back PG-13, or R. Go bloody, or do not, there is no try.
Which, perhaps, explains why...
It Sounds As Though A 'Suicide Squad' Sequel Would Be R-Rated
That, at least, appears to be the implication of Suicide Squad director David Ayer's recent revelation to MTV News. As he argues:
"For an R movie, you have to decide to do it right out the gate, and that was never the case here...We were always going to hit the PG-13 rating [with Suicide Squad]. But the film is meant to be that. It’s got edge, and it’s got attitude. And it’s got its own voice...There’s a lot in the film that’s going to surprise people."
Or, in other words, Suicide Squad was designed to be a hard PG-13, and there was nothing Ayer could do to change that (even in the wake of the very much R-rated Deadpool's rampant box office success). If the movie — which, it's worth noting, hasn't come out yet, and is thus a long way from being guaranteed a follow-up — does happen get a sequel, though, Ayer points out, then things could be very different. Asked whether or not he would target an R-rating in said (hypothetical) sequel, he was quick to argue that:
"It would be worth lobbying for."
So, now all Suicide Squad has to do is make a ton of money at the box office this August (while getting more positive reviews than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, realistically), and we might just see the R-Rated "Squad of fans' " dreams.
Here's the thing, though: The whole division between PG-13 and R is, at its core, completely arbitrary. Suicide Squad isn't going to be a gentle, kid-friendly romp just because it's PG-13. Deadpool isn't any less of a gloriously goofy comic book movie because it's R-rated. Sure, there are levels of sex, gore and swearing that you can feature in an R-rated movie that wouldn't be allowed in a PG-13, but the actual differences can be relatively small and superficial.
We're often told that a PG-13 movie can't be truly "adult" — thus ensuring that the market for R-rated movies retains its credibility. And yet, it sure would be tough to label the (very much PG-13) Batman v Superman anything but "adult," even without a whole lot of sex, swearing and blood splatter.
If Suicide Squad works as well as we're all hoping, then, perhaps it'll finally be time to pay a little less attention to a movie's rating, and a little more to its deeper content — and to its quality. After all, it's a big world of movies out there, and there's no reason we can't all enjoy PG-13 and R-rated movies equally.
Y'know, just so long as they're actually good.
What do you think, though?
Would you like to see a 'Suicide Squad' sequel be R-rated?